Story Worms: Stepping Back


It’s inevitable that, at times, real life has to take priority over writing. After all, it’s not my writing that pays the bills.

Last year, as Christmas quickly approached, I found myself busy with family stuff – visiting relatives, buying presents, planning for the big day. Everyone gets busy at that time of year, especially if they’re parents. So I didn’t worry about letting my writing slip. I crossed some submission deadlines out of my diary, and let the weeks slide by without writing anything at all. But that was fine; it was Christmas and I deserved a break.

New Year came and went and I prepared for starting a new job; a job that not only takes four days out of my week when my previous job had only been three days, but a job that is far more emotionally draining. I often find myself so tired that I’m in bed before 9pm, not having turned on my computer at all.

I’ve started and abandoned three stories through January. Two because they were going nowhere, and a third because I had no chance of meeting the deadline. In fact, I’ve been letting a lot of deadlines pass me by. I’ve become unreliable, uninspired, unmotivated and, for the first time ever, apathetic about writing.

I’ve always been good at coming up with excuses (one of my many useless talents) – “I deserve it”, “It’s reduced, so really I’m saving money”, or “Of course carrot cake is a vegetable”. And right now, I’m just waiting for my real life to settle down a bit, for my body to fully adjust to its new routine, and then I’ll get back to writing. Won’t I?

The other thing that’s not helping me rediscover my motivation is that I currently have four stories that have been accepted and are just waiting for their publication date. I have two more waiting for their yes or no response. So I’m doing well, I deserve a break. Surely.

Sounds like I’m trying to convince myself of it.

But any creative energy is going to wax and wane. And as long as it’s not my main income, I can afford to let it. I’m not going to feel guilty about stepping back for a little while. Quite often, a break from writing leaves me refreshed and raring to go when I do get back into it.

But the false starts I’ve suffered from in January have me a little worried. I think I’m struggling more than I care to admit. And I’ve not seen a call for submissions that’s really sparked my inspiration for a while now. I think it’s time to work on something for me, not for someone else. I have a few stories I’ve been holding on ice, stories I want to write for myself, not for any particular anthology, just for me. It’s about time my muse came back from her holiday anyway.

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3 Responses

  1. F. Charles Murdock says:

    We’re constantly told as writers that we have to write everyday forever if we want to get anywhere and, although it’s sound and practical advice, I also believe that some downtime is also needed to keep one’s head straight. We mustn’t fret if we hit a wall, whether it be writer’s block or missed deadlines, we must simply take a moment to breath, clear the cobwebs, and find a way to break through. Good luck!

  2. Angeline says:

    Absolutely determined to make February a much better month, I’ve started on an endeavour to write at least 500 words a day. Yesterday I manager 501 very stubborn words. Hoping it gets easier and easier!